Above the Tin is about underprivileged teens that travel cross country to compete at the highest levels in the unique sport of Squash.
Our inspiration to make this film is interesting because we sort of fell into it. We had previously worked on fundraising videos for the non-profit organization that sponsors the teams of urban squash players that we follow throughout the documentary. As we made our first gala video in 2010, we slowly began to understand just how special these kids were and just how memorable they were on their way to overcoming. The more we learned about the kids the more we were on board with the Urban Squash mission, and this job became an annual job that we always did without compensation and never once complained about.
Before we knew it, we were asked to travel with these kids to document two squash tournaments taking place in the Winter of 2011-2012. We agreed to do it on the condition that no matter what we shot, we would be able to turn it into a documentary where we had complete creative control of the story, and the program obliged. Then life happened and this footage was put away. It was never forgotten and we made numerous attempts to review the footage and put together a cut but we were never able to gain momentum due to the time-commitments that come with being small business owners.
Fast-forward to 2016 and we decided to enter the KPBS Explore Program, a annual program that provides seed money to local content creators. Because the only thing we lacked was money to free us up and allow us to finish the movie, we knew that if we could receive funding from KPBS, that would bridge the funding gap and make finishing Above the Tin a reality.
Your donations will allow us to finish our film. The end product will be a one-hour feature length documentary that tells the story of a group of special kids and their journey towards capturing two national championships.
The kids (well now they’re adults) of Access Youth Academy all were students at San Diego’s prestigious ‘The Preuss School’. These kids are Reyna, Sharon, Yan, Marissa, Ana, Hannah, William, Eric, Erik “Rookie”, Kevin and Jesus “Chuy.” They’re all brilliant, impressive, athletic, and world-class competitors. Beyond that, they are all connected by their love of a sport that none of them had even heard of 3 years prior to us watching them compete for a national championship. They’re also teenagers that are dealing with choosing colleges, studying for SATs and deciding who to go to the Prom with.
We connected with these kids right away because the stories they told were amazing. Stories about growing up in difficult circumstances like challenging parents, culture clashes, and navigating college applications as an undocumented immigrant. Above that, I think we just saw ourselves in them. Who doesn’t remember high school and the social and academic pressures that come along with it? Those are the things we connected to so beyond the “causey” stuff, there was the human side of these kids that we all could relate to and we believe that anyone that watches Above the Tin will see a little of themselves in these kids.
While our story has elements of the following genres: the Sports documentary, the coming of age story, and the fish out of water story. You can think of it as a cross between More than a Game and the recently released Venus and Serena Williams documentary. At its core this is a story about kids from some of San Diego’s under-privileged neighborhoods that are trying to navigate a system that is fundamentally rigged against them. This is a success story that is told in 3 acts in multiple locations over the course of nearly a decade.
Things that are beyond our capabilities are mostly in the post audio department: like sound mixing for broadcast, cleaning up the audio in places where we didn’t capture it perfectly, and bringing in a talented musician to create a score for our film are all things that your donations will assist with. In addition, because all of the kids are now graduated from high school (most have graduated from college) we are also going to be bringing them back to San Diego (or traveling to them) to film exit interviews where we talk about how these experiences changed their lives.
We’ve been creating content for over a decade now. Before we even thought about filming a corporate video for pay we were creating short films in local and national film festivals. Our shorts have played everywhere from San Diego to Busan South Korea. In 2012-2013 we filmed our first feature length narrative: Callejero. It’s currently available on demand as well as in select retail outlets. My point being: that we’re storytellers with a proven track record and have won multiple awards along the way. From Best Cinematography to Best Film we are dedicated to our craft and to telling compelling stories. Our passion is what drives us.